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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: September, 2014

Issue PDF
Volume 25, Number 9

In this issue:

  1. Modern-Day Slavery in America’s Prison Workforce (p 1)
  2. Texas: Unconstitutional to Revoke Probation Due to Refusal to Self-Incriminate During Polygraph or Therapy (p 10)
  3. From the Editor (p 12)
  4. Private Debt Collection Companies Contract with District Attorney’s Offices (p 14)
  5. CCA Has Long History of Wage Violations, Poor Treatment of Employees (p 18)
  6. Do Residency Bans Drive Sex Offenders Underground? (p 20)
  7. Settlement Opens Georgia Courtrooms to the Public (p 22)
  8. Sentence Reductions for “Snitching” Undermine U.S. Justice System (p 24)
  9. New York Judge Unseals Attica Prison Riot Records – Sort of (p 28)
  10. Selection and Retention Process for Tennessee Appellate Court Judges Challenged (p 30)
  11. New Report Cites Fewer HIV-Positive State and Federal Prisoners (p 31)
  12. BOP Criticized for Failing to Oversee Healthcare Administrator at FCC Butner (p 32)
  13. South Florida Landlord Bucks Trend, Offers Housing to Sex Offenders (p 34)
  14. Massachusetts: Acquittal on Additional Sex Offense Doesn’t Trigger Reevaluation of Sex Offender Classification (p 34)
  15. Fifth Circuit: Prisoner Who was Raped May Proceed with Lawsuit against Lock Company (p 35)
  16. Eleventh Circuit Tailors Turner for Censorship Claims at Civil Commitment Center (p 36)
  17. Transferred Prisoner May Sue Oklahoma Officials in Oregon Court (p 36)
  18. Former New Mexico State Senator Released from Prison (p 37)
  19. Eighth Circuit Upholds Injunction Over Cameras in Restrooms at Civil Commitment Center (p 38)
  20. First Circuit Dismisses Appeal of Court’s Failure to Sanction Federal Prosecutor (p 38)
  21. Alabama Work Release Transportation, Medical and Drug Screen Costs Not “Incidental to Confinement” (p 40)
  22. Seventh Circuit Upholds Dismissal of Suit Over Placement on Suicide Watch (p 40)
  23. Eighth Circuit Holds No SORNA Registration Requirement after Leaving U.S. (p 42)
  24. Fourth Circuit Finds PLRA Attorney Fee Cap Constitutional (p 42)
  25. Alabama DOC Short Hair Policy Does Not Violate RLUIPA (p 43)
  26. Texas: Clerk May Not Bill Defendant for Attorney Fees Not Ordered by Court (p 44)
  27. Fifth Circuit: “Mailbox Rule” Applies to Texas State Habeas Petitions (p 44)
  28. Fifth Circuit Holds Prison Guard’s Injury-Causing Reckless Driving States Nonfrivolous Claim (p 45)
  29. Courts Struggle with Child Pornography Restitution Following Supreme Court Ruling (p 46)
  30. Prison Labor Boosts Wal-Mart’s Profits Despite Pledge (p 48)
  31. $2.85 Million Jury Verdict for Suicide at Missouri Jail (p 49)
  32. Incarceration is Excusable Default in New York Housing Court Proceeding (p 50)
  33. Recidivism Performance Measures for Private Halfway Houses in Pennsylvania (p 50)
  34. Some GPS Monitoring Devices Capable of Audio Recording (p 52)
  35. Indiana Supreme Court Holds Agreed Court Order with Prosecutor is Binding on DOC (p 52)
  36. Some States Refuse to Implement SORNA, Lose Federal Grants (p 54)
  37. Volunteers Help Prisoners Vote at D.C. Jail (p 54)
  38. News in Brief (p 56)

Modern-Day Slavery in America’s Prison Workforce

Why can’t we embrace the idea that prisoners have labor rights?

by Beth Schwartzapfel

Laurie Hazen has bad taste in men. “They’re my downfall,” the 41-year-old jokes in her Massachusetts accent. “I have to really stay single.” An ex-boyfriend first introduced her to prescription drugs, she says, a ...

Texas: Unconstitutional to Revoke Probation Due to Refusal to Self-Incriminate During Polygraph or Therapy

Texas: Unconstitutional to Revoke Probation Due to Refusal to Self-Incriminate During Polygraph or Therapy

by Matt Clarke

On May 8, 2013, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held that a probationer’s term of community supervision cannot be revoked because he had refused to answer incriminating questions while taking a lie ...

From the Editor

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

Since its inception, Prison Legal News has been reporting on prison slavery and the exploitation of prison slave labor. This month’s cover story continues that tradition. As we have repeatedly noted, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution did not abolish slavery; rather ...

Private Debt Collection Companies Contract with District Attorney’s Offices

Private Debt Collection Companies Contract with District Attorney’s Offices

by David M. Reutter

Numerous lawsuits have been filed against companies that contract with prosecutors to collect debts in bad check cases because, opponents say, the firms contact debtors on official district attorney letterhead and use draconian tactics such as harassing ...

CCA Has Long History of Wage Violations, Poor Treatment of Employees

CCA Has Long History of Wage Violations, Poor Treatment of Employees

On August 20, 2014, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest for-profit prison operator, issued a press release that attempted to put a positive spin on over $8 million in back wages the company had agreed to pay ...

Do Residency Bans Drive Sex Offenders Underground?

Do Residency Bans Drive Sex Offenders Underground?

by Steven Yoder

Early last year, Los Angeles set aside a sliver of land in its Harbor Gateway neighborhood for the city’s newest and smallest park: two jungle gyms on a fifth of an acre.

The project was more than just an effort ...

Settlement Opens Georgia Courtrooms to the Public

Settlement Opens Georgia Courtrooms to the Public

by David M. Reutter

Human rights groups have applauded efforts to open Georgia courts to members of the public, putting an end to a widespread practice of courtrooms being declared off limits – a practice that was condemned as a violation of the ...

Sentence Reductions for “Snitching” Undermine U.S. Justice System

Sentence Reductions for “Snitching” Undermine U.S. Justice System

by Derek Gilna

Imagine this scenario: Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents bust a small-time drug dealer for, let’s say, nickel-and-diming in heroin. They take him to booking, run his fingerprints and discover this is his third arrest. As a multiple offender ...

New York Judge Unseals Attica Prison Riot Records – Sort of

New York Judge Unseals Attica Prison Riot Records – Sort of

by Joe Watson

A New York state judge has ordered the release of hundreds of pages of documents related to the investigation of the 1971 riot at the Attica Correctional Facility, but not before striking enough information from the ...

Selection and Retention Process for Tennessee Appellate Court Judges Challenged

Selection and Retention Process for Tennessee Appellate Court Judges Challenged

by Christopher McWhorter

In the State of Tennessee, judges are elected. Before incumbent appellate court judges are placed on the ballot, however, they must be evaluated by the Judicial Performance Evaluation Committee (JPEC), which recommends whether they should be retained ...

New Report Cites Fewer HIV-Positive State and Federal Prisoners

New Report Cites Fewer HIV-Positive State and Federal Prisoners

by Matt Clarke

A recent study revealed that the number of HIV-positive prisoners in both state and federal facilities nationwide is declining and, for the first time, the AIDS mortality rate for prisoners has fallen below the national average among the ...

BOP Criticized for Failing to Oversee Healthcare Administrator at FCC Butner

BOP Criticized for Failing to Oversee Healthcare Administrator at FCC Butner

by Derek Gilna

The federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is facing criticism for its apparent failure to adequately oversee a Florida-based company responsible for coordinating the payment of BOP bills for prisoner medical care in North Carolina.

Before it ...

South Florida Landlord Bucks Trend, Offers Housing to Sex Offenders

South Florida Landlord Bucks Trend, Offers Housing to Sex Offenders

Laws that restrict where sex offenders can live when they are released from prison leave many homeless, but one south Florida apartment manager is providing housing opportunities by leasing apartments to offenders on liberal terms.

“I just believe that everybody ...

Massachusetts: Acquittal on Additional Sex Offense Doesn’t Trigger Reevaluation of Sex Offender Classification

Massachusetts: Acquittal on Additional Sex Offense Doesn’t Trigger Reevaluation of Sex Offender Classification

by Matt Clarke

On September 11, 2013, the Massachusetts Supreme Court held that a prisoner who had been convicted of a sex offense, then given a level three classification by the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) due ...

Fifth Circuit: Prisoner Who was Raped May Proceed with Lawsuit against Lock Company

Fifth Circuit: Prisoner Who was Raped May Proceed with Lawsuit against Lock Company

by Matt Clarke

In a July 9, 2013 opinion, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the statute of limitations in a federal lawsuit against a manufacturer of cell door locks at a county jail, brought ...

Eleventh Circuit Tailors Turner for Censorship Claims at Civil Commitment Center

Eleventh Circuit Tailors Turner for Censorship Claims at Civil Commitment Center

by David M. Reutter

On September 23, 2013, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a summary judgment order that upheld a civil commitment center’s policy which limited circulation of a detainee’s controversial newsletter among residents at the facility ...

Transferred Prisoner May Sue Oklahoma Officials in Oregon Court

Transferred Prisoner May Sue Oklahoma Officials in Oregon Court

by Mark Wilson

In an October 9, 2013 ruling, the Oregon Court of Appeals held that Oregon courts have personal jurisdiction over Oklahoma prison officials with respect to claims brought by an Oregon prisoner transferred to Oklahoma.

In May 2007, Oregon ...

Former New Mexico State Senator Released from Prison

Former New Mexico State Senator Released from Prison

Manny Aragon, 66, a former New Mexico state Senate leader, was released from federal prison on December 5, 2013. Although most federal prisoners are sent to a halfway house to complete the remainder of their sentence, Aragon was released to home confinement ...

Eighth Circuit Upholds Injunction Over Cameras in Restrooms at Civil Commitment Center

Eighth Circuit Upholds Injunction Over Cameras in Restrooms at Civil Commitment Center

by Matt Clarke

In April 2013 the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a preliminary injunction granted by a federal district court in a lawsuit challenging the placement of video cameras in bathrooms at the Iowa Civil Commitment ...

First Circuit Dismisses Appeal of Court’s Failure to Sanction Federal Prosecutor

First Circuit Dismisses Appeal of Court’s Failure to Sanction Federal Prosecutor

by Matt Clarke

On July 22, 2013, the First Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal by the Massachusetts Bar Counsel challenging the failure of a district court and a three-judge disciplinary panel to discipline an Assistant U.S ...

Alabama Work Release Transportation, Medical and Drug Screen Costs Not “Incidental to Confinement”

Alabama Work Release Transportation, Medical and Drug Screen Costs Not “Incidental to Confinement”

by David M. Reutter

Alabama’s Supreme Court has held that the plain language of § 14-8-6, Ala. Code 1975 does not prohibit the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) from collecting, over and above the 40% threshold established ...

Seventh Circuit Upholds Dismissal of Suit Over Placement on Suicide Watch

Seventh Circuit Upholds Dismissal of Suit Over Placement on Suicide Watch

by Matt Clarke

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the dismissal of a prisoner’s lawsuit over his placement on suicide watch and in administrative segregation.

Daryise L. Earl, a Wisconsin prisoner, filed a civil rights action pursuant ...

Eighth Circuit Holds No SORNA Registration Requirement after Leaving U.S.

Eighth Circuit Holds No SORNA Registration Requirement after Leaving U.S.

by Matt Clarke

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held in August 2013 that the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) does not require a registered sex offender (RSO) who moves to a foreign country to notify the ...

Fourth Circuit Finds PLRA Attorney Fee Cap Constitutional

Fourth Circuit Finds PLRA Attorney Fee Cap Constitutional

by David M. Reutter

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held on November 1, 2013 that the attorney fee provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) is constitutional. The ruling was in alignment with other appellate courts that have considered the ...

Alabama DOC Short Hair Policy Does Not Violate RLUIPA

Alabama DOC Short Hair Policy Does Not Violate RLUIPA

by David M. Reutter

The Eleventh Circuit held in July 2013 that an Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) policy requiring prisoners to maintain short hair does not violate their rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

The ...

Texas: Clerk May Not Bill Defendant for Attorney Fees Not Ordered by Court

Texas: Clerk May Not Bill Defendant for Attorney Fees Not Ordered by Court

by Matt Clarke

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held last year that a district clerk may not send an indigent prisoner a bill of costs for court-appointed attorney fees in his criminal case when the court ...

Fifth Circuit: “Mailbox Rule” Applies to Texas State Habeas Petitions

Fifth Circuit: “Mailbox Rule” Applies to Texas State Habeas Petitions

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that the “mailbox rule” of Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266 (1988) now applies to determining the date when Texas prisoners file state habeas corpus petitions for the purpose of calculating ...

Fifth Circuit Holds Prison Guard’s Injury-Causing Reckless Driving States Nonfrivolous Claim

Fifth Circuit Holds Prison Guard’s Injury-Causing Reckless Driving States Nonfrivolous Claim

by Matt Clarke

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held last year that a district court erred when it dismissed a prisoner’s claim that he was severely injured when a guard driving a transport van slammed on the brakes ...

Courts Struggle with Child Pornography Restitution Following Supreme Court Ruling

Courts Struggle with Child Pornography Restitution Following Supreme Court Ruling

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is among the latest federal courts to tackle the issue of restitution for victims of child pornography – an issue addressed in a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that legal observers say only ...

Prison Labor Boosts Wal-Mart’s Profits Despite Pledge

Prison Labor Boosts Wal-Mart’s Profits Despite Pledge

by Derek Gilna

The supplier pledge for America’s largest retailer states: “Forced or prison labor will not be tolerated by Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart will not accept products from Vendor Partners who utilize in any manner forced labor or prison labor in the manufacture or ...

$2.85 Million Jury Verdict for Suicide at Missouri Jail

$2.85 Million Jury Verdict for Suicide at Missouri Jail

by Derek Gilna

On January 18, 2013, following a five-day trial, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri returned a verdict of $2.85 million against the City of Sullivan, finding that negligence ...

Incarceration is Excusable Default in New York Housing Court Proceeding

Incarceration is Excusable Default in New York Housing Court Proceeding

by Mark Wilson

On October 7, 2013, the New York City Housing Court held that a tenant who could not attend court proceedings due to incarceration was entitled to relief from a default judgment.

Otto Thompson, 57, who is disabled ...

Recidivism Performance Measures for Private Halfway Houses in Pennsylvania

Recidivism Performance Measures for Private Halfway Houses in Pennsylvania

by Alex Friedmann

In 2013, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) officials announced they would provide financial incentives to privately-operated community corrections facilities – halfway houses – that reduce the recidivism rates of offenders released from those facilities.

The unique initiative followed ...

Some GPS Monitoring Devices Capable of Audio Recording

Some GPS Monitoring Devices Capable of Audio Recording

by Christopher Zoukis

Civil libertarians and prisoner advocacy groups have expressed shock and outrage at the discovery that some Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking devices, used to monitor the movement and whereabouts of many pre-trial defendants, parolees, sex offenders and other persons ...

Indiana Supreme Court Holds Agreed Court Order with Prosecutor is Binding on DOC

Indiana Supreme Court Holds Agreed Court Order with Prosecutor is Binding on DOC

by Matt Clarke

The Supreme Court of Indiana has held that a court order regarding whether a sex offender could be retroactively classified as a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP), and required to register as a sex offender ...

Some States Refuse to Implement SORNA, Lose Federal Grants

Some States Refuse to Implement SORNA, Lose Federal Grants

As of August 2014, twenty-eight states were still struggling with the costs and bureaucratic nuisance of implementing the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) – also known as the Adam Walsh Act – eight years after it was passed by ...

Volunteers Help Prisoners Vote at D.C. Jail

Volunteers Help Prisoners Vote at D.C. Jail

For most prisoners in jail awaiting trial, voting is an afterthought. But volunteers at the District of Columbia jail manned the polls for the first two days of early voting in October 2012 and instructed prisoners on how to fill out ballots ...

News in Brief

News in Brief

Brazil: Brazilian authorities announced on January 15, 2014 that an investigation would be initiated into atrocities at the infamous Pedrinhas penitentiary. Bloody battles between rival prison gangs resulted in complaints of mass rapes of women visitors and the posting of a video depicting decapitated and tortured prisoners ...


 

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